A time to live, a time to die is entirely inspired by my memories, it shows how things appear to us through memory, the way in which certain atmospheres, certain details of the past take on great importance over time, so to speak to swell. » HOU Hsiao-hsien
In 1947, when he was still a baby, Ah-ha and his family left China for Taiwan. They first settled near Taipei, then moved to the south of the island where the climate was milder for the father, who suffered from asthma. Pampered by his grandmother, little Ah-ha grew up in a family that was soon struck by illness: from the mischievous little boy he was at ten years old, he turns into a taciturn and rebellious teenager...
With A Time to Live, a Time to Die (1985), Hou Hsiao-hsien continues his exploration of Taiwanese youth through the form of autobiography. This film captures the filmmaker's first memorable memories, from his childhood games to his teenage love affairs, often punctuated by death. Rather than dwelling on the psychology of the characters, the director shows the passage of time like a set of tableaux – an impression reinforced by his distant and fixed framing – where the environment takes precedence over the narration. Life is unveiled openly and without taboos, as evidenced by the various bodily humors – blood, sperm, stains of body decomposition – which punctuate the film. Between the lines, Hou Hsiao-hsien also evokes the political situation in Taiwan at the time of Chiang Kai-shek's anti-communist propaganda. Like thousands of other Chinese families, hers has chosen exile; if her generation and that of her parents had adapted to this new environment, her grandmother would dream until the end of her life of returning to the continent – in vain. A moving chronicle on transmission and the passage to adulthood, A time to live, a time to die also marks the passage to maturity of its director in the exercise of his art.
A TIME TO LIVE, A TIME TO DIE (1985 – Colors – 135 mins) new HD restoration
. PREFACE BY JEAN-MICHEL FRODON
* in HD on the Blu-ray version
Released November 8, 2017
Released at the cinema on August 3, 2016 in a restored version as part of the Hou Hsiao-hisen Retrospective - 5 early works